Redolent with flavors and aromas of spices associated with Thai cooking, this Thai glazed chicken recipe has been tweaked to make it doable even if you’re not in Southeast Asia and traditional ingredients are hard to find.
Oh, I remember Thailand. Well, Phuket anyway. I was in Phuket for such a short time and I spent most of that time enjoying the food. I might not have been impressed with some things about Phuket but the food is something I still dream about. After almost ten years, the memories have stayed so vivid I can almost smell the spices and feel the creaminess of coconut milk in my mouth.
Sigh. It’s been too long, Thailand.
I’m planning a trip to Chiang Mai next year. Not Bangkok which is much too crowded and frenetic for me. And, despite the lovely food I ate in Phuket, I’ve no plans of going back there again. I prefer the more provincial Chiang Mai where the food is nothing short of legendary. The climate is cooler too.
What is it about Thai food anyway that makes visiting the country again an exciting idea? Digging even deeper, what is Thai food to begin with? There is no universal Thai food, truth be told, because flavors and cooking styles vary from one region to the next. And don’t think that Thai food is just all about chilies either. It is so much more than that.
What sets Thai food apart from the food of its Southeast Asian neighbors is partly due to the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that was never colonized by the West. And that’s like saying that Thai cuisine does not suffer from identity crisis.
If you live in outside Thailand and your acquaintance with Asian food has been limited to restaurant fare, it won’t be accurate to say that you have experienced real Thai food. Even I who live in neighboring Philippines and who have had Thai restaurant food countless times before I stepped foot on Thailand was amazed. But those among you who have had the pleasure of being invited to dinner to the home of families who are originally from Thailand may have had a more authentic Thai food experience.
But until the day I fly to Chiang Mai, I will have to content myself with home cooked Thai-style food.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, this recipe has been tweaked to make it friendly to home cooks who have access to common Asian ingredients but who may not have seen a tamarind fruit, for instance. I mention tamarind because it is one of the most common souring agents in Thai (and Malaysian) cooking. Don’t have it? Can’t find it? We’ve substituted lime juice for this sweet-sour-spicy chicken dish.
It is my younger daughter, Alex, who executed this dish. We were both under the impression that we had skin-on thigh fillets in the freezer (her father did the grocery shopping) and was surprised to find that the fillets were skinless. Alex asked me if she should coat the skinless chicken thigh fillets with some kind of breading to make them hold up to the sauce. I suggested flour, egg and panko (Japanese bread crumbs).
Are those crushed peanuts sprinkled over the chicken? Peanuts are a traditional garnish in Thai cooking but Alex decided to use lotus seeds. We bought a jar in Saigon and, apart from snacking on the delightfully light and crispy lotus seeds, we hadn’t really made good use of them. Until last night when Alex cooked this lovely Thai glazed chicken dish.
Thai Glazed Chicken
- 4 large chicken thigh fillets
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 egg beaten
- ½ cup panko (you may need more)
- cooking oil
For the glaze
- ½ cup sweet chili sauce (available in Asian groceries)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ cup lime or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha (Thai chili sauce available in Asian groceries) use more for a spicier glaze
- 3 tablespoons crushed lotus seeds (or use the more traditional roasted peanuts)
- sliced scallions
- Wipe the chicken fillets dry with paper towels. Pound to a uniform thickness of about a quarter inch (optionally, cut each fillet into two to three portions). Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
- Dredge each piece of chicken in flour; shake off the excess. Dip in egg. Coat with panko. It's like making ebi furai so you can use the photos in the ebi furai as guide.
- In a small sauce pan, mix together all the ingredients for the glaze. Cook uncovered over medium heat to reduce. This should take about eight minutes.
- While the glaze reduces, heat enough cooking oil in a frying pan to reach a depth of at least two inches.
- Fry the breaded chicken fillets over medium heat until the bread crumbs are crisp and golden. Flip to cook both sides evenly. Don't forget to check the glaze to avoid scorching.
- Arrange the fried chicken fillets in a platter and drizzle the glaze over them. You may also opt to toss the chicken with the glaze to coat them evenly.
- Garnish with crushed lotus seeds (or peanuts for a more traditional touch) and sliced scallions before serving.